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    Entries in Peter Svidler (49)

    Friday
    Aug242018

    More St. Louis Action Coming Up: Chess960 Matches Starring Kasparov

    Here's the quick summary: five 20-game matches, with six rapid and 14 blitz games taking place from September 11-14 of this year. All the games are Chess960 (aka Fischerrandom), and the positions will be unknown to the players until the start of the round. Here are the pairings:

    • Garry Kasparov - Veselin Topalov
    • Hikaru Nakamura - Peter Svidler
    • Wesley So - Anish Giri
    • Sam Shankland - Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
    • Levon Aronian - Leinier Dominguez

    Thursday
    Jun142018

    Daily Roundup: Leuven, Svidler-Yu, Navara-Harikrishna

    It's rapid & blitz time in the chess world, as not one, and not two, but three elite quick-play events transpired today.

    We already know about Leuven, the first Grand Chess Tour tournament of 2018. Today was the last day of the rapid portion of the event, and Wesley So continues to enjoy a dominant lead. He defeated Hikaru Nakamura in the first game of the day, then drew the next two to finish with 7/9. Or rather 14/18, since the rapid games count double compared to the blitz games coming Friday and Saturday. Levon Aronian and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave have 11 points apiece, Sergey Karjakin and Nakamura have 10, and on it goes: Mamedyarov 9, Grischuk 8, Caruana 7, and Anand and Giri have 5 each.

    Next, Peter Svidler played a rapid  and blitz match against Yu Yangyi that started Tuesday and finished today (Thursday), consisting of eight rapid games (which counted double) and ten blitz games. Svidler massacred Yu in the rapid, going 6-2 thanks to a five-game winning streak, but after going +1 in the first five blitz games it was Yu who delivered the beatings, scoring 4.5 points in the last five games. Yu thus won the blitz portion 6.5-3.5. It wouldn't have been enough to save the match even without the double scoring in the rapid, but with it Svidler's final margin of victory was 15.5-10.5. (Offiical site here; this will be more helpful to non-Chinese readers.)

    Finally, David Navara and Pentala Harikrishna are halfway through a rapid-only match, and the score is tied 3-3 with one win apiece. As with Leuven, play continues through Saturday.

    Friday
    Jan192018

    Wijk aan Zee 2018, Round 6: Mamedyarov the Sole Leader

    It was a strange round as White managed to parlay three winning positions into a glorious total of half a point. Two of the leaders, Anish Giri and Viswanathan Anand, faced off briefly before calling it a day, giving Shakhriyar Mamedyarov to take the lead by himself with a win over Baskaran Adhiban.

    It seemed instead that Mamedyarov was headed for the third place tie. Adhiban got to the time control with an edge, and after Mamedyarov's 41st move Adhiban's advantage was enough to win. But there's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip, and Adhiban first lost the win, then the advantage, then equality, and finally his last chance to fight for survival. When it rains, it pours, and now Mamedyarov is in clear first with +3 while Adhiban is tied for last at -4.

    The day's other winner was Wesley So, and he too was losing with Black. Wei Yi's enterprising chess had him in great shape for a win and a +1 score overall, but he fell to pieces in time trouble. So is now tied for second place with Giri and Anand.

    Vladimir Kramnik could have been a part of that tie as well, but he gave away a big advantage (like Adhiban and Wei Yi, he too had White) and Gawain Jones slipped away. Kramnik remains at +1, while Jones is playing over his head and retains an equal score.

    The most exciting draw of the round, and probably the most exciting game, period, was Peter Svidler's game with Magnus Carlsen. There were plenty of tactics, sacrifices, and material imbalances, and both sides were simultaneously attacking each other's king. Better yet, their personal post-mortem was caught on video - see below. (I've done my best to include their analysis in the game file, too.)

    The other two games (Fabiano Caruana vs. Maxim Matlakov and Hou Yifan vs. Sergey Karjakin) were "clean" draws, i.e. there were no big errors or missed chances.

    The games, with my analyses of four of the games, are here. The video follows the round 7 pairings, which are: 

    • Carlsen (3.5) - Hou Yifan (1)
    • Jones (3) - Svidler (3)
    • Anand (4) - Kramnik (3.5)
    • So (4) - Giri (4)
    • Mamedyarov (4.5) - Wei Yi (2.5)
    • Matlakov (3) - Adhiban (1)
    • Karjakin (3) - Caruana (2) 

    Wednesday
    Jan172018

    Wijk aan Zee 2018, Round 2

    I won't offer a full summary of the round 2 action, but here are the games, some of which have been annotated for your entertainment and instruction. Rounds 3 and 4 will gradually make their appearances as well.

    If you can remember all the way back to round 1, there were three winners: Giri, Kramnik, and Anand. The first two faced off, and while Giri has generally been one of Kramnik's customers, in this round the roles were reversed. Giri had all the fun, and Kramnik collapsed badly before the end of the time control. The world champion notched his first (and through round five, only) victory of the event against Adhiban. Adhiban plays lively chess, but perhaps hoping for a solid draw against the world champion played the Scotch Four Knights with White. Carlsen equalized without any problem, and when Adhiban failed to play 25.c3 his position fell to pieces. The third winner on the day was Mamedyarov (at the moment the world's #2 player); he defeated Hou Yifan (who is having a terrible tournament with just half a point out of five). I didn't analyze this last game, but did offer some comments on the marathon battle between Wei Yi and Svidler. Wei Yi was on the verge of winning, but a moment of carelessness allowed the 45-time Russian champion to eke out a draw. (Yes, I'm exaggerating; he has "only" won eight Russian titles.)

    Wednesday
    Jan172018

    Wijk aan Zee 2018, Round 5: Anand, Giri, and Mamedyarov Lead Heading into the First Rest Day

    We'll catch up on the earlier rounds soon, maybe even tonight, but let's begin with round five. This round makes a misnomer of my subject line, as it was played in Hilversum, and between the inconvenience of travel and the anticipation of tomorrow's rest day it might have inspired some of the players to take an unofficial day off. Jones-Giri and Matlakov-Karjakin won't bring any new fans into the chess world. Anand's draw with Wei Yi was short but real, as far as I can tell: it looks like spectacularly good preparation by Black rather than mutual non-aggression.

    The other four games were harder fought, and three had a decisive outcome. The marquee matchup between Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik was a long draw that was always around equal. Kramnik outplayed Carlsen a little bit, but only enough to get the better half of a drawn rook ending. It was a good, correct game in which Kramnik correctly did what Carlsen always does: try to draw blood from a stone.

    Now to the decisive games. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Peter Svidler both won, against Fabiano Caruana and Hou Yifan, respectively, and in both cases their opponents fell apart in time trouble. For Caruana it was grave time trouble, and what was an equal position after 27 moves was lost after 32. Svidler's game was shocking. He was clearly better early on, and missed an almost trivial win on move 22 that would have ended the game immediately. After a further error the position was equal, and the players kept exchanging mistakes as they approached the time control. After Svidler's 38.Rc7 (which was tricky but objectively bad) Black could have saved the game with 38...Nxh3+ 39.Kh2 Rxe5!, but she missed this and resigned right after the time control.

    Finally, Wesley So ground out a win against Baskaran Adhiban in a rook ending. Like the games described in the previous paragraph, there were some serious errors here too that shifted the evaluation back and forth, and Adhiban made the final mistake.

    The games, with my comments, are here. On now to the pairings for round 6, on Friday:

    • Hou Yifan (.5) - Karjakin (2.5)
    • Caruana (1.5) - Matlakov (2.5)
    • Adhiban (1) - Mamedyarov (3.5)
    • Wei Yi (2.5) - So (3)
    • Giri (3.5) - Anand (3.5)
    • Kramnik (3) - Jones (2.5)

    Friday
    Dec222017

    A Svidler Interview, On the Occasion of his 8th Russian Championship

    A substantial interview with the now eight-time Russian champion, Peter Svidler, here. One quibble though: as impressive as the Russian Championship is, to compare Svidler's feat with Mikhail Botvinnik's seven Soviet Championships (I'm counting the "Absolute" Championship in 1941) is to confuse apples and oranges; or better, apples and all fruit, or at least all pomes. Winning the Soviet Championship meant besting all the Russians, yes, and all the Armenians, Latvians, Estonians, Azeris, Ukranians, Lithuanians, Georgians, Belarusians, etc.

    Thursday
    Dec142017

    Mr. Eight-Time: Peter Svidler Wins Yet Another Russian Championship

    While Peter Svidler didn't win any major events this year until the Russian Championship, he has performed consistently, gaining points in every or almost every event he played in this year. At the moment his rating is 2767.7, just a point and change below his all-time peak rating of 2769, achieved in 2013. He's back up to #10 in the world, and showing (as did players like Viswanathan Anand, Vladimir Kramnik, Boris Gelfand, Vassily Ivanchuk and others) that passing the age of 40 (Svidler is 41) is far from a death sentence for one's career.

    Now about the Russian Championship. Entering the last round he was in a four-way tie for first, with three other players half a point behind. A playoff looked likely, and there was one--but it only involved two players. Svidler had White against Vladimir Malakhov - one of the players in the tie - and won cleanly and convincingly in a Spanish Four Knights (via a Berlin move order). The other two players in the tie had the black pieces: Vladimir Fedoseev (against Evgeny Romanov) and Nikita Vitiugov (vs. Sergey Volkov). Fedoseev, who led or co-led throughout the tournament (except in the final standings) was unable to beat the lowest-rated player in the field (though in this field, that's still an extremely strong player), but Vitiugov managed to beat Volkov. (Crushed him, but while he was already better with Black after just 13 moves, he was certainly helped along by the blunderful 14.0-0-0??)

    This entailed a two-game playoff between Mssrs. Svidler and Vitiugov. Svidler gradually outplayed his opponent with Black in the first game, and in game two Vitiugov took such extreme risks with Black that he was lost after his 7th(!!) move and resigned on move 18.

    So that makes eight Russian championship titles in all: 1994, 1995, 1997, 2003, 2008, 2011, 2013, and 2017. Granted, Vladimir Kramnik, Alexander Grischuk, Sergey Karjakin, and Ian Nepomniachtchi weren't playing, but he has won the title ahead of them as well.

    (Speaking of which: Nepo has won the title once, in 2010, and lost in a playoff to Svidler in 2013. Karjakin has never won the title, but he has twice been eliminated in playoffs - in 2010 to Nepomniachtchi and in 2012 in a large playoff that knocked Svidler out as well. Grischuk has won one title, in 2009, and surprisingly Kramnik has never won it - he's 0 for 3.)

    Congrats to Peter Svidler!

    Monday
    Sep252017

    Svidler On His World Cup, and on Game 1 of Aronian vs. Ding Liren

    The audio isn't especially good, but it's worth watching if you can tolerate its choppiest moments. Have a look.

    Sunday
    Sep172017

    World Cup, Round 5, Day 3: Vachier-Lagrave Defeats Svidler in Tiebreaks

    Four is the number of the remaining players, but not the number of consecutive Candidates events for Peter Svidler. Instead, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is in the final four, one match away from his first Candidates tournament. (Not that it will be easy, as his next opponent is Levon Aronian.) He defeated Svidler after a pair of tiebreak games, both of which continued the theoretical duels of their classical games.

    In the first, Vachier-Lagrave was White in a Giuoco, with Svidler repeating the 10...a5 idea that he and Grischuk have now played a combined five times against MVL in the past week. White enjoyed a very mild plus through most of the game, but the eventual draw was no surprise.

    In game 2, Svidler again played the English, and MVL repeated the Symmetrical line with 5...Nb4 and 6...Nd3+. Svidler again played the curious 9.h4, and after the same six consecutive moves with the same knight, Black varied from their classical game. In that game, Black chose 10...Nbc6, while time MVL played 10...e6, as played in the only other game to have reached that position. Svidler already started to think here, which wasn't a particularly good sign for his fans. (But maybe I should say something like "fans of his play". Fans of his commentary may be thrilled; one may hope that he'll appear before the microphone somewhere for the semi-finals or at least the finals.) After 11.Bf4 a6 12.Nxd4 cxd4 13.Ne2 Nc6 Black had no problems to speak of. My suspicion is that if 9.h4 survives, it is 10.d3 that will go the way of the dodo. Black was soon better, and after 23.Qxd6+? Svidler was just about lost. Short on time as well, he was unable to put up much resistance, and Vachier-Lagrave won quickly and smoothly. (The games, with my notes, are here.)

    Tomorrow is a day off for everyone, and on Tuesday we get Aronian vs. MVL in one semi-final, and Wesley So against Ding Liren in the other.

    Friday
    Sep152017

    World Cup, Round 5, Day 1: Aronian Crushes Ivanchuk, Svidler Misses a Chance

    With 120 of the participants gone, the tournament has a much quieter, almost lonely feel to it now, and all the more so considering that two of today's four games were drawn before move 20. Richard Rapport didn't exactly pull out all the stops against Ding Liren, offering a draw (which was accepted) after his 11th move, and Vladimir Fedoseev didn't exactly put Wesley So's Petroff out of business. That barnburner lasted a whopping 19 moves. (Or 18 and a half, but who's counting?)

    Levon Aronian's game with Vassily Ivanchuk wasn't a marathon either, clocking in at just 24 moves. The Sofia rules aren't relevant, however, as the offer a handshake was Ivanchuk's resignation. An English turned into a sort of odd Open Catalan where Black made all his queenside moves, but without developing his kingside. If the goal was to achieve ...c5, it was a smashing success. Unfortunately, keeping one's king in the center can have adverse consequences, and Aronian ripped open the center before Black's king could scurry off to safety. Between Black's bad king and White's powerful, passed d-pawn, Ivanchuk was in all kinds of trouble. In the final position Black's king was relatively safe and material was still even, but White was likely to win 1-3 pawns on the queenside in the very near future. Black's kingside was still an uncoordinated mess, and White's d-pawn pinned down Black's army. It was a nice, high-energy game by Aronian, but a poor game by Ivanchuk; at a minimum a case of poor preparation.

    The last game to finish was Peter Svidler's battle against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Svidler enjoyed a serious advantage thanks to Black's weak pawns on the queenside, and he maintained a healthy advantage until 32.Rc6?! (or maybe '?'). This allowed Vachier-Lagrave to survive with the help of a little trick, 33...Nb5! White's pressure quickly dissipated, and the game was agreed drawn just after the time control, on move 41.

    The games, with my comments, are here.